Our flight to Santiago was pretty painless and it was the middle of the day when we arrived so we reconstructed our bicis and following the map of a helpful airport worker we headed out into much hotter than unexpected Chile (prob early 30’s). Escaping the airport confines was not easy and not wanting to go around in circles we lifted our bikes over a barrier and headed off on a tangent finally in the direction of Collina, 40 km to the north and seemed like the place to go for the night.
Navigating the highways of Santiago got tricky and the motorways busy and with help from passers by and some exciting biking we managed to finally be on the highway we wanted, our 1.5 hrs ride time had taken 3 hours so when we saw campervans in a compound we thought we were onto a camping ground. Instead it was a seller of campervans, but the boss (Christian) let us stay as our planned destination was a town of 2 prisons and said to be ‘muy peligroso’ (very dangerous). We camped on the deck of his building, safe behind locked gate and a security system. Whew, it had only been 24 hrs from leaving home.
Next morning, Christian´s wife Nema woke us and we enjoyed a hot shower and chatting before heading into the heat of the day. (if you are reading this Christian and Nema – muchas gracias!) No-one told us of the tunnel thru to our destination of Los Andes so we had to hitch a ride with a truckie, Julio, who got us up the steep hot hill climb, thru the tunnel and into the town at 700m. We got lucky again at the Loco Luna cafe we stopped at. English speaking owner with cyclist hubby Christian who could brief us on the pass/tunnel to Argentina. Our road to Argentina was closed after 40km from 8am to 8pm because of road works on the high pass. In reverse it was closed 8pm to 8am. Alan was secretly pleased as it saved us a very hard climb at altitude, we were both bummed that it meant we would not see the scenery as we would cross at night and we had to find a lift. The 40km out of Los Andes climbed 1000m and we had the afternoon to recover while we waited for the road to open. Easy to throw our bikes in a ute. At 11pm we were dropped off at 2700m at the Argentina border to do the paperwork and find a campsite behind the building..